Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Starlog Project: Starlog #149, December 1989: Back to the Back to the Future

We know from his interview with Starlog several years back that Harlan Ellison hated Back to the Future. To punish him for his troublesome relationship with the studios (such as making a submarine drop on a big-time producer’s head) (you had to be there), Hollywood decided to release Back to the Future II: The Wrath of Khan. Wait, no, it was just Back to the Future II.

You remember that movie? It was the one you sat through because you thought it’d be better than the first one, but it turned out to look like a collection of out-takes from the first Back to the Future. In short, Back to the Future II was the Star Trek V of this series. (BTTF III, however, I thought was quite enjoyable, my usual Ellison-support be damned.)

Nonetheless, Back to the Future II is given center stage this issue, while Star Trek V: The Final Frontier takes it on the chin from readers and from Starlog’s former co-publisher.

Starlog #149
76 pages (including covers)
Cover price: $3.95

Classified ad of the month: “THE FIRST STAR TREK COMMUNITY will form for mature Trekkers. Structured community life expressing core values of ST on realistic level. Responsible, self-supporting individuals send legal SASE and autobiog letter of interest to ...” Who says fans don’t have commitment anymore?

The rundown: Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd are the co-cover boys this issue, heralding the second in the Back to the Future trilogy; but pre-teen girls will prefer the contents page, which features a big photo of Ariel from The Little Mermaid. The Communications section is entirely devoted to reader reactions to Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (one reader notes, “The Final Frontier is a perfect caricature, a distillation of everything that spells Star Trek to the uninitiated and the unsympathetic: camp, silliness, pseudo-science, pretentious pseudo-morality.”); and David McDonnell’s Medialog column questions whether Star Trek V killed the Trek film franchise. This might be a good issue to hide from William Shatner.

Marc Shapiro goes behind the scenes of the new Alien Nation TV series, a spinoff of the recent film of the same name; Richard Feather interviews novelist Connie Willis; Michael J. Wolff, the magazine’s interplanetary correspondent, explores movies from the sea (Creature from the Black Lagoon, Splash, etc.): “The number of legends concerning ‘sirens’ would indicate that ‘sea-faring’ nations (Greece, England, etc.) contained a greater than average number of mermen among their populations. Sinbad, Odysseus, Popeye, Nemo, Cousteau and other maritime adventurers may have been mermen or descendants of mermen” – make of that what you will.

Peter Bloch-Hansen interviews actor Robert Lansing, who portrayed Gary Seven in the original Star Trek episode “Assignment Earth” and who says of co-star Teri Garr, “She hadn’t had much experience then, but she had this kooky personality that certainly worked,” which is amusing only because in her own Starlog interview, Teri Garr pretty much straight-up expressed her disdain for the science fiction world; the only time I ever recall seeing Raggedy Ann & Andy mentioned in Starlog is in this month’s Videolog column by David Hutchison; in a recent issue of Starlog, we met Catwoman, and this time we meet Yvonne Craig, the Batgirl actress who is interviewed by Kyle Counts.

In the Fan Network pages, Peter L. Huston writes about a public television station that broadcasts episodes of Space: 1999, Laurie Morris announces the winning candidate for Klingon of the Year honors (it's Worf), and an unsigned item announces J.M. Dillard’s book Star Trek: The Lost Years; Marc Shapiro goes behind the scenes of Back to the Future III to preview the sequel; in part six of David Hutchison’s lengthy examination of the special effects of Who Framed Roger Rabbit, we learn some of the challenges that faced the filmmakers; Kathryn M. Drennan talks with actor and director Jeff Corey, who discusses what it was like to testify before the House Unamerican Activities Committee at the height of the Red Scare, and Mark Phillips contributes a sidebar on Corey’s role in the Star Trek episode “The Cloud Minders”; Edward Gross checks in with Star Trek V: The Final Frontier screenwriter David Loughery (with two sidebars: “The God Thing” and “Star Trek V: The Lost Ending”); Bill Warren checks in with actor Charles Cooper, who plays Klingon General Korrd in Star Trek V; continuing the Klingon theme, Kris Gilpin interviews actor Todd Bryant, who played Klaa in Trek V; it’s a veritable mini-Klingonpalooza, as Marc Shapiro interviews actress Spice WIlliams about portraying Trek V’s Vixis; in his Bridge column, Kerry O’Quinn continues his theme from last issue, as he finally gets to see Shatner’s Trek directorial debut and gives a mixed review of it, saying it’s not as bad as people had told him, but giving it especially harsh grades for its silly religious content; and editor David McDonnell is photographed “consulting with Weasels in Toontown” and chats/jokes about time travel in his Liner Notes column.
“In this first Back to the Future, I felt more like a tool. In this one, I feel more like an accomplice. ... In the last movie, Marty [McFly] was pretty much a victim of circumstance. He starts out that way in this one but we also discover a weakness in his personality along the way that tends to stir the pot and make things interesting. Marty has gone through enough of this traveling stuff to think that manipulating it might benefit him. He thinks that, in an innocent way, playing with time just might help him out.”
–Michael J. Fox, actor, interviewed by Marc Shapiro: “Back to the Future III
To see more issues, click on Starlog Internet Archive Project below or visit the permanent home of The Starlog Project.
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